NILS LOFGREN – Mountains (2023)

EYES (Jeff Scott Soto) - 24U [2-CD Set] Out Of Print - full

NILS LOFGREN never fails to deliver albums filled with glorious guitar playing, heartfelt songs, and a soulful look at the human condition. That his upcoming new album, ”Mountains”, features all should come as no surprise.
Lofgren has been one of classic rock’s most trusted sidemen for more than four decades. Initial stints with Neil Young and Crazy Horse led to work with artists as diverse as Lou Reed and Ringo Starr, and eventually, Bruce Springsteen, with whom he’s collaborated as part of the E Street Band since 1984.
Along the way, Lofgren built up his own extensive career, too, first with his band Grin from before his Crazy Horse gig, and continuing through more than two dozen solo albums. These records are more labors of love than commercial behemoths, mostly released through his own labels since 2001.
”Mountains” doesn’t stray far from his musical patterns: loosely wound roots classic rock laced with blues and some acoustic American traditions of all time.
Old friends Young and Starr drop by, and so do David Crosby (who died in January) and the great Ron Carter, providing a backdrop for songs about political upheaval, love connections and another late rock ‘n’ roll icon, Charlie Watts.

What is it that Nils does on guitar that’s so fascinating? Maybe nothing that others can’t do, technique-wise, but they’ll never have Lofgren’s heart or his fingers. Surely, Jackson Browne could have written a song like “Dream Killer”, but there, too, it wouldn’t have that deft and elusive Lofgren touch.

Lofgren doesn’t waste time getting down to business. The opening track, “Ain’t the Truth Enough,” was written following the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol, and over three and a half minutes circles around to misinformation cycles and the recent assault on women’s rights. “Who filled your head with lies?” he asks over slippery slide guitar, room-filling organ and Starr’s steady backbeat. “The truth ain’t that hard to find.”

For rocking listen to the aforementioned “Dream Killer”, which is filled with plenty of hot licks/cool tricks and other things that Lofgren pulls out of his hat. He might be saving the acrobatics for the records these days rather than doing backflips on the stage, but that’s OK.
“Won’t Cry No More” (dedicated to Charlie Watts) has plenty of filthy, gutsy maneuvers, the kind of thing that Lofgren has done since his days leading Grin and which we audiences can’t get enough of.

If “Only Ticket Out” sounds like 1989, that’s OK too; we wouldn’t have it any other way.
He’s joined by a crack group of musicians, including Ron Carter on “Only Your Smile” (the veteran bassist elevates the track in a way that only he can), Andy Newmark adds drums to two pieces, and Kevin McCormick lends his inimitable and inestimable work to four tunes.
This might also very well mark the last time that Neil Young and David Crosby appeared on the same record, albeit via two different tracks—Young lends his voice to “Nothin’s Easy (For Amy)”, and Crosby does a fine job on “I Remember Her Name”.

If you like you classic rock delivered by a musician who breathed the scene since its origins, ”Mountains” doesn’t disappoint. The guitars are nice and loud, the playing vivid and imaginative, and the writing as strong as it’s ever been in Lofgren’s career.
Highly Recommended


01 – Ain’t The Truth Enough
02 – Only Ticket Out
03 – Back In Your Arms
04 – Won’t Cry No More (For Charlie Watts)
05 – Nothin’s Easy (For Amy)
06 – Dream Killer
07 – Only Your Smile
08 – I Remember Her Name
09 – We Better Find It
10 – Angel Blues

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